Saint Mary Lake At Sunrise

Glacier National Park, Montana
Behind The Shot: Saint Mary Lake at Sunrise” By Peggy Hamilton—Glacier National Park, Montana

Photo By Peggy Hamilton

My husband and I were on a trip to Glacier National Park and were intending to attempt some Milky Way shots while we were there. Our window of opportunity was going to be small as there was a late twilight and an early sunrise and we would be dealing with a fairly early moonrise to boot. But, unfazed, we struck out in the middle of the night to get up to the Logan Pass Visitor Center for our shots. We had no sooner gotten there, set up our equipment and started shooting when we noticed a heavy fog quickly coming up from the valley floor. We were enveloped in no time and lost our visibility for star shooting. Since we had driven this far and sunrise was only about two hours away, we decided to continue down the east side of Going to the Sun Road and see if the fog would break for a sunrise shot. We were heading for a viewpoint of Saint Mary Lake that included Wild Goose Island with the mountains in the background.

We found a pullout and, armed with our gear and bear spray, set out to find a location that would provide something a little bit different than the standard shot from the pullout. We both found locations that we liked to compose our shots and set up our gear. All we had to do now was wait for sunrise and hope that the cloud cover might break. Regardless of whether or not it would break, welcoming the day in this gorgeous vista was worth it nonetheless.

As the sun started to rise, the clouds began to break and I started shooting. I knew that I would need to do a multi-exposure shot to get both the highlights and shadows, so I set the camera for a five stop exposure. This photo was made by fusing the five exposures in Photomatix Pro software.

The moral of the story, when your first photo opportunity doesn’t pan out the way that you wanted, pick up the gear and go find another opportunity and you may just get rewarded with a great shot.

See more of Peggy Hamilton’s photography at

Nikon D800, AF Nikkor 24-70mm @ 24mm, Induro CT414 Tripod and Wimberley Head. Exposure: 1/40 sec., 1/20 sec., 1/10 sec., 1/5 sec., 1/2.5 sec., ƒ/13, ISO 100, EC ranged from -1.7 to +2.3